As PR professionals, we are responsible for making our clients look good in front of media—no if’s, and’s or but’s—that’s what they pay us for. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. There’s nothing worse than going into an interview with the media and your spokesperson says the wrong thing or isn’t prepared and stumbles around for the right words. These mishaps can damage relationships with your clients and with the media. To help prevent these situations, I recommend following these best practices so you (and your client) don’t get caught with your pants down.
Understand your spokesperson—their strengths and weaknesses
Sometimes we have spokespeople who think they know how to handle a media interview because they are the subject content expert, but don’t know anything about how to tell a story, develop key messages and lead the reporter in the direction they want to take with the interview. Sometimes we have spokespeople who are naturals and need very little coaching. Regardless, as someone in the field of advising on the best ways to approach media interviews, you should understand what kind of spokesperson you have on your hands, what makes them good or bad, and identify what tools will help them be successful.
When you bring on a new client, you should consider watching any video interviews or listening to any podcasts to get a sense of what kind of spokesperson you have on your hands. Even asking them to provide an overview of their company, goals, culture, etc. in person (or over the phone) will give you a sense of how well they can convey messages, frame content and tell stories. Look for a few things during this conversation: did the company overview make sense? Is the language branded to current materials? Are they long-winded or too concise? Does the language sound natural or too marketing-like. At this point, you should be able to identify your spokesperson’s top three strengths and weaknesses. An effective PR pro will convey these across to spokespeople in order to benchmark progress and determine different ways to build the weaknesses into strengths.
Dig into what you want your spokesperson to say
Whether your spokesperson already has defined messaging or if they need an entire revamp, you’ll need to determine with your spokesperson what they’re going to say before they say it. Regardless of the topic, you should follow these four main points of messaging development for any kind of interviews.
What’s the big picture your spokesperson is trying to get across? Determine your spokesperson’s key message, or the umbrella statement to the target audience. This could be the main reason why they’re in business, or why they’re technology helps to solve a specific problem.
What are his/her 2 or 3 support statements/claims? Supporting statements expand on the key message explaining how, what, when, where and how. There are ample opportunities with the key message and supporting statements to include “soundbites” which will be those specific moments in the interview that the reporter will glean onto and create the headline or opening paragraph from.
How can your spokesperson prove these statements? Arm your spokesperson with hard evidence and don’t assume a reporter will take their word for it. Media LOVE data, so any data points you can bring that they’ve never heard of will be important. Data points also justify the supporting statements.
What does your spokesperson want the reader/viewer to do with this information? Information is far more powerful when you put it to use, so you need a call to action. This can come in many forms, so think about your key message(s), your audience and what you want them to do, whether it’s download a new version of a product, donate money to a cause, or read a study on something relevant to the specific industry.
Practice, practice, practice
Once you’ve put some time in with your spokesperson to find out his/her strengths/weaknesses and determined the appropriate messaging, spend extra cycles with them to practice and increase their comfort level in interviews.
A mock on-camera interview is usually a great step with a first time spokesperson, so they can see themselves answering questions and give them a taste of what to expect. They’ll most likely see their own strengths and weaknesses. Play the part of the reporter and come prepared with questions. You should review these questions ahead of time with your spokesperson, though throw in a random question as well to help practice bridging – one of the techniques below. These techniques are very useful for spokespeople when they reach uncomfortable moments during the interview, want to emphasize a specific point or lead the reporter down a road of questioning.
Bridging – Reporters sometimes throw in curveballs about topics unrelated to the story at hand. To prepare your spokesperson, teach them how to bridge – a transition from one topic to a subject your spokesperson wants to talk about. One of the most popular bridging techniques is “I’m not sure about that, but what I do know is…”
Flagging – This is the simplest and most effective way to ensure that reporters recognize key messages. Simply suggest your spokesperson emphasize the main point or points you want the reporter to remember. There are many variations; here’s one: “What your audience needs to know is…”
Hedging – This will help your spokesperson buy extra time if he/she is nervous or the question wasn’t anticipated. Essentially, train your spokesperson to ask the reporter for further clarification on a specific question. This will buy them an extra 30-60 seconds to gather their thoughts.
Hooking – This technique leads reporters to ask the questions you want them to ask. Bringing up a certain topic in your statement is one way of hooking as it usually leads a reporter to ask about that topic. Another is to logically prompt the interviewer to follow-up on the first message allowing your spokespeople to get a second or third one in. Here’s an example: “There are three customer benefits to <insert topic>, let me start off by telling you about the first…”
Framing – With this technique spokespeople present conclusions or call to actions first. This sounds odd, but their time talking with a reporter will be limited. Once they’ve laid out their conclusion they can then support the statement with facts and then restate their point to close.
For those of you not familiar with the history of Barokas PR, the company sprouted from modest roots in a small brick building on Cherry Street in Downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square. It was the perfect place to call home. We were located above Zaina and Metsker Maps (now located at Pike Place Market). We were in the heart of Pioneer Square and at the center of a thriving tech and arts community. The space was small, but it was ours.
It didn’t take long for our NO BS approach to take hold and drive us to look for new space to accommodate a growing team. While we didn’t move far, we did move up—to the third floor of the Polson building, located across from the waterfront ferry terminal. The Polson Building housed us through many great moments in our company’s history, but as we headed towards our 18th birthday, we came to the conclusion that it was time to once again move up and out (hint – awesome city deck and a BBQ!).
It is with much excitement, that we announce our new location this month. Once again, we didn’t have to look far to find what we were looking for in a new office. The Standard, on First and Madison, provides the perfect home for the next phase of BPR. The layout allowed for us to make the space our own, while maintaining the building’s distinct historic accents. Like everything we do, the new office design screams us—bold, unique, inviting, and perhaps best of all, it offers a more open environment which maps to our company values and culture.
Next year, we’ll be looking for a new space to call home in Denver. Our A+ team and the vibrant tech community in Boulder/Denver has led us to rapidly outgrow our space.
If you haven’t gotten to know us yet, there’s no better time than now—stop in, say hi, and get a feel for what we do. We promise, there’s no one else like us. We’ll even BBQ you up a burger.
Last week, the streets and buildings of Denver were taken over by entrepreneurial minded individuals for the largest event of its kind in North America – Denver Startup Week. The free annual summit is intended to bring together the entrepreneurial community and celebrate the exceptional companies, innovation, and ideas happening in this great city we call home. The week long events included sessions, presentations, panels, workshops, happy hours, social events, and job fairs, which focused on four tracks – Business, Design, Technology, and Manufacturing. Events throughout the week ranged on topics from “Designing and Building a Positive Community – Online and in the Real World” to “Going Green: Scaling Existing Tech into the Cannabis Sector” and beyond.
Our Denver office was lucky enough to attend some of the events throughout the week such as “Practical IoT: How Will IoT Effect Climate Change,” “Civic Disrupt: Exploring Opportunities Between Startups and the Public Sector,” “Riding the Wave of High Growth,” and “Startups & Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities.”
The “Practical IoT: How Will IoT Effect Climate Change” panel featured insight from Vic Ahmed from Innovation Pavilion and TechRiot, Sherri Hammons from the IoT Talent Consortium, and a professor at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The panel discussed Climate Change, the Internet of Things (IoT), and the opportunity to create a balanced co-existence and co-evolution between humanity and the planet. The panel discussed the issue of climate change extensively, pointing out that 18 million people will be displaced as sea levels increase in Bangladesh. When looking for an answer to climate change, the panel brought to attention the current existence of open-source technologies that can monitor the climate change and help us solve the problem.
A few employees also attended “Civic Disrupt: Exploring Opportunities Between Startups and the Public Sector.” Panelists Peter Kozinski, Director, RoadX, Colorado Department of Transportation, Alex Kreilein, Managing Partner & Chief Technology Officer, SecureSet, and
Scott Blumenreich, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, City of Centennial explored Colorado’s own civic disruption through the lens of the private industry and public sector. The panel examined how private sector technology can make a difference in the public sector, emphasizing opportunities for disruption. The panel highlighted autonomous cars, explaining that they are no longer just a thing of the future and with this comes the increased need for entrepreneurs to innovate our infrastructure accordingly.
Barokas PR client, Bryan Leach, CEO of Ibotta, spoke to a full house about the lived experience of being an entrepreneur in a high-growth company during “Riding the Wave of High Growth”. In this session, Bryan highlighted the top ten roadblocks any entrepreneur may find themselves facing as they grow their company, which include:
1 – Most of your company is new
2 – Past methods of communication no longer cut it
3 – Roles become more specialized
4 – You can’t make a good decision without data
5 – You can’t find talent fast enough
6 – You are attracting different kinds of talent
7 – You rely more on the next generation of leaders
8 – You become less approachable
9 – You must innovate while still growing in the core
10 – You’re now on everyone’s radar
Another Barokas PR client, Techstars, participated in “Startups & Diversity: The Challenges and Opportunities” where panelists offered their advice on how to become a diversity leader and considered the challenges women and minorities face as startup founders and employees. Prior to the panel, Techstars and Chase for Business commissioned an independent survey that identifies why diversity is important to startups and describes specific actions startup founders can take to create an inclusive work environment. Key takeaways from the survey results include:
Diversity is important to 72% of founders, but only 10% are taking action
Why diversity matters:
81% of all founders say diversity enhances creativity and innovation
67% of all founders say that diversity improves problem-solving
63% of all founders say that a diverse workforce provides greater access to talent
Only 23% of founders believe a diverse workforce improves financial performance
Denver Startup Week succeeded in its mission to foster an environment where every member of a team, in every industry, can come to learn, grow, and prepare for their next challenge. Whether you are part of a brand new startup or the CEO of a well-known company, Denver Startup Week leaves you inspired, to say the least. Until next year, DSW!
For those of us who live and breathe the PR industry day in and day out, we know first-hand that story telling is the crux of the job. Each day, we’re out on the “front lines” engaging with media, selling in our clients’ stories and amplifying them to the world. And while it’s fairly turnkey to drill down the angle, cherry pick reporters based on their beats and get some quick media hits, smart PR pros know that a solid public relations campaign is built on the back of a strong brand story. It’s the secret sauce that helps elevate brand awareness and drive consumer engagement for clients. When coupled with good PR (our bread & butter), thoughtful brand messaging can directly impact, educate and inspire consumers. So next time you’re thinking critically about your clients’ brand stories, here are a few things to consider.
Know your clients’ skills – What do they do well? Will they make customers’ lives better? What is the company’s overall vision? What do they want people to feel when they read or hear about the brand? These are just a few of the questions we must ask ourselves in order to build the overarching story for our clients, the root from which all supporting stories will then stem.
Humanize the story – Let’s be honest. Reading articles on companies alone can be tedious and uninteresting. But learning about people, and how a brand, product or service directly impacts their life, now that’s an intriguing story. As PR pros, we’re taught to focus our message on the people, a C-suite exec or a client “user,” someone who personifies the brand. It’s that additional layer of support that can take the story to another level and really drive results.
Authenticity can’t be faked – Customers aren’t dummies. They relate to a brand when it feels real and tangible to them. They demand authenticity and transparency. And when brand messaging is misaligned or the brand’s voice feels disingenuous, doubt seeps into the mind of the buyer, which inevitably chips away at a company’s long-term credibility.
Leverage brand advocates – Brand advocates, those folks who can, will and want to share their positive first-hand experiences of a brand, free from compensation, can be an invaluable resource in helping shape a company’s big picture story. By curating favorable word-of-mouth messaging, brand advocates can enhance a customer’s understanding and commitment to a brand by proving their own loyalty and sharing meaningful content across highly trafficked sites.
Moral of the story? In PR, one sometimes has to zig and zag to discern what reporters need and how our clients can meet those needs. At times, pitching can be trial and error, but when clients have a fine-tuned, well-crafted brand message at their core, we’re better positioned to drive a more linear approach to PR. In the end, we’re able to deliver a coherent and straightforward story that a brand’s customers will respond to in a positive way.
At Barokas PR, we don’t only wear multiple hats when it comes to our job, but we’re also experts in a plethora of industries. From title insurance and the real estate market, to cannabis, mobile marketing, and sales technology—we master diverse spaces in order to speak the same language as our clients and the media that cover their respective industries.
When it comes to our particular industry, you’ll sometimes hear people claim you don’t have to really know a particular technology in order to promote it (of course, we call a great big BS to that). It’s far from the truth. Knowledge is power, and knowing your clients’ products as well as they do, makes the difference in landing placements in top tier pubs verses relying on low hanging fruit.
Here are a couple tips and tricks we use to successfully integrate ourselves into different industries:
Ramp Up Before They Sign Up
From the get-go, we begin doing our homework. This means when we first approach, or get approached by a company of interest, we immediately begin diving into the details. What does this company do, how do they do it, and why do they do it, are key questions we ask ourselves—followed by who else, if any, are doing it too.
Once we’ve got the basic five W’s covered—who, what, when, where, why and how, we look into the product specifics and dissect the story they’re already telling in order to identify strengths, weaknesses and the next chapter. This not only ensures we’re fully prepared to speak to the space and have a knowledgeable conversation, but it also means from the day we kick-off, we’re able to hit the ground running.
Receive a Sales Pitch
A trick we like to use to get ramped-up on client lingo, as well as product specifics, is to take a briefing from the ones that speak to it the most—the sales team. This gives us insight into the technology from a how-to perspective, and also highlights the key words that best describe what the company does. If we know how our client sells to its customers, we’re better equipped to sell their story to the media. And of course, we take good notes.
Monitor the News
One tried and true tip for understanding a new space is reading up on its current events and hot topics. What terms are consistently showing up in headlines? What issues are they covering and what questions are they trying to answer? This not only teaches you about the space if its new to you, but it also makes for great pitch fodder and helps you build out your list of key media and influencers.
A good goal is to keep a running marketplace news in your head all week long—spending some time each day reading vertical publications, and being able to response pitch as necessary. By engaging with the reporters in the space on a regular basis, including liking, sharing and commenting on their pieces—helps create a relationship that allows for mutual respect and opens the door down the road when your client can be asserted into the conversation.
In short, it’s not enough to just know your client’s industry. To be an effective partner, a PR pro should be as well versed in their client’s space as they are. So learn the tech and be a team player.
They say a party isn’t a party without a good old fashioned scandal and, in that sense, the 2016 Summer Olympics didn’t disappoint. There was Gabby Douglas who was skewered for not putting her hand to heart during the national anthem. Hope Solo who called the Swedish women’s soccer team ‘cowards’ after a disappointing loss. And then of course there was the green water in the diving pool… But no other scandal rocked the 2016 summer games like the full blown international incident dubbed #LochteGate. Whether it’s just a case of boys-will-be-boys or it leaves a permanent scar on the U.S. Olympics, there’s no denying there were some clear PR winners and losers.
If for some reason you missed the whole thing, allow me to briefly recap. Ryan Lochte is a U.S. Olympic champion swimmer who has 12 Olympic medals, including six gold, three silver and three bronze. He is second in line behind Michael Phelps for the Olympic medal count in swimming. Like Phelps, he has had his share of foibles, including a failed reality TV show called, “What Would Ryan Do.” In a classic case of life imitating art, the events of the 2016 Summer games unfolded just like bad reality TV show, with Ryan Lochte in the starring role. Ryan’s real-life drama unfolded when he told NBC reporter Billy Bush he had been robbed at gunpoint the night before. After an official investigation, it came to light that Lochte had concocted the story as a cover up for vandalizing a gas station in a post-party drunken stupor.
Of course the biggest loser in all of this is Ryan Lochte himself. Aside from damaging his reputation, he has lost four sponsors including his $50,000 endorsement from Speedo. But there were so many PR lessons in this drama that I couldn’t resist sharing some dos and don’ts.
Don’t make a long-winded apology
Once the damage was done, was there anything Lochte could have done to redeem himself? Yes. A more direct and timely public apology would have served him better and could have minimized collateral damage. His statement, published in this CBS Sports story, is three paragraphs long! And it includes a full paragraph detailing the incident from Ryan’s perspective. This long-winded explanation sounds more like an excuse than an apology and definitely gives reporters more fodder for additional stories and speculation. Rather than dousing the flame, Lochte added fuel to the fire.
Do come prepared or don’t bother showing up
Notwithstanding his freshly colored hair, Lochte appeared to be completely unprepared for his post-scandal interview with Matt Lauer. Instead of sticking to a few simple talking points and acknowledging accountability, he got caught recounting the evening’s escapades in yet another version of the story.
“Whether you call it a robbery or whether you call it extortion or just paying for the damages, don’t know. All we know is that there was a gun pointed in our direction and were demanded to give money.”
This just gave Matt Lauer more ammunition for the hard questions to come where he accused Lochte of changing his story from one about “the mean streets or Rio” to a negotiated settlement to cover up dumb behavior. Later in the week, that interview was repurposed by none other than Steven Colbert in this incredible parody of the situation on The Late Show.
Ryan should really have taken his own advice and “laid low” rather than showing up for this interview that left two co-anchors in tears.
Don’t make excuses
In his original interview with Lauer, Lochte only partially admitted culpability saying,
“I over-exaggerated that story and if I had never done that, we wouldn’t be in this mess. The people of Rio…the authorities—they put on a great games. My immature intoxicated behavior tarnished that a little.”
His use of the term “over-exaggerated” and the focus on his intoxicated state, as well as his use of the term “a little” to qualify his statement are obvious bids to minimize his guilt. A better approach would have been to lead with a direct apology and acknowledge the impact that his actions had made.
Do take action and take a stand
If Ryan Lochte is the big loser in all of this, the winner from a PR perspective is clearly Speedo, one of Ryan’s top sponsors. Once the scandal hit, Speedo came out almost immediately with a brief and pointed statement and also took decisive action.
While we have enjoyed a winning relationship with Ryan for over a decade and he has been an important member of the Speedo team, we cannot condone behavior that is counter to the values this brand has long stood for. We appreciate his many achievements and hope he moves forward and learns from this experience.
Rather than avoiding a direct condemnation of Lochte’s behavior, Speedo boldly took him to task in the statement and turned a bad situation into good by donating Lochte’s $50,000 endorsement fee to Save the Children.
Now that it’s all said and done, the Olympic flame is out and this scandal is dying down, the big question is, can Ryan Lochte make a comeback? Will he be forever portrayed as the villain of 2016 or will he emerge a stronger, better version of himself? My bets are on Lochte. If Michael Phelps can overcome his PR mishaps to win back the hearts and minds of America then certainly there’s a chance for another redemption story in 2020.
We’re 12 days into Rio 2016, and the steady stream of vexing, hair-raising headlines dominating the news cycle is already the stuff of legend. Still, the blunders over the last week and a half don’t even scratch the surface on some of the really unsettling news that’s plagued the Olympics narrative for months. Stories from Brazil have sparked deep concern, fear and even outrage among both human and animal rights activists, athletes themselves, and most importantly, the world at large. A million PR foibles, a million missed opportunities to attempt to right some of the wrongs. Below, I’ve plucked examples of Rio’s biggest media flops so far, and, with a rather large grain of salt, I offer you my nuggets of wisdom on how a more thoughtful approach, in any PR disaster, can go a long way toward redirecting a communications crisis.
First, we’ll take a look at Zika. It all started with a mosquito. And now, the World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global public health emergency. Growing fears about contracting the virus even inspired a slew of top competitors to bow out of this year’s games. And Brazilian officials have done little to address or alleviate these concerns.
Next, the water. Water safety at Rio 2016 has been a major point of contention right from the start, and recent tests show that many of the aquatic competition sites are far more polluted and contaminated than originally thought. In fact, prior to the start of the games, local health experts doled out the really encouraging suggestion that athletes “just keep their mouths shut.”
So where did Rio’s PR strategy go off the rails? For starters, Olympic officials generally opted to sweep negative press under the rug in lieu of telling the truth. As we’re in the business of public relations, we know it’s paramount that a client’s perceived reputation be one of honesty and transparency, even when potential news could be deemed unpleasant or damaging. It’s no secret Zika has people worried. And you can’t exactly gloss over floating dead bodies, untreated sewage or inexplicably green water. These are things that don’t go unnoticed. Whoever helmed the response plan here really should have stuck to the old adage, ‘the truth will set you free.’ At least then, you’re more likely to earn the public’s respect, and hopefully, evoke their sympathy.
Furthermore, when reacting to negative press, timeliness is everything. Yet, the Olympic committee has noticeably skirted around some of the most troubling moments leading up to this year’s games, like the shooting death of 17-year-old jaguar Juma back in June, or the discovery of a long and far-reaching Russian doping scandal. That’s why initiating contact with your concerned audience as early as possible is key to establishing trust and maintaining a positive rapport.
Yet even with its laundry list of controversies, Rio 2016 has captured the world’s attention. You’ve got the world’s strongest, most talented athletes competing on a global scale. The water crisis seems far less concerning when you’re watching Simone Biles dominate her floor routine. But if you ever find yourself manning a PR crisis on behalf of one of your clients, you may not, and probably will not, have the luxury of guaranteed positive press, or an engaged audience who’s ready to side with you. Crisis communications can be a tough area to navigate, especially when you aren’t expecting a crisis to arise. Staying open and honest and addressing the public’s concerns head on in a timely fashion are just two tried and true ways we can help bolster a client’s reputation if and when they’re faced with a crisis situation.
As a PR professional, getting the media’s attention is your number one goal. In order to do this, you have to carefully construct a meaningful pitch that is newsworthy and attention grabbing, something that will stand out in the inbox of a reporter with 1,500 unread emails. The reality of the matter is that you will rarely receive interest the first go around, which is why your follow-up holds so much power. Reporters get thousands of emails a day and just because they don’t respond, doesn’t always mean that they aren’t interested. In an overly crowded inbox, things are more likely to fall through the cracks.
Even though the follow-up email is often dreaded, it should be your BFF. But there is a very fine line between being persistent and being an annoying pain in the ass. Which is why you need to create a balance when following up for the best results. Here are a few ways you can master the art of the follow-up pitch.
Give them at least 24 hours
Waiting a week to follow-up will be too late, and the reporters will have already forgotten about that great pitch you sent. But you also don’t want to bombard their email before they have even had a chance to read your original pitch. Being needy is never a redeeming quality, so try to avoid following up within 24 hours of the original pitch. If the subject matter is not too timely, waiting 24-48 hours to follow-up can be a happy medium. By not waiting too long, it gives you the opportunity to give your client an update on whether or not the pitch is working or not. If it’s not working, you can come up with a new approach.
Pick up the phone
Just because we live in the age of the internet, doesn’t mean that a simple phone call is no longer effective. But before calling, do some research. Some reporters prefer that you do not call them and will state it loud in clear in their bios or in their tweets. Just like follow-up emails, you don’t want to be too pushy. Follow-up via phone call and leave one message, but don’t fill their voicemail box or you can guarantee you won’t be getting a call back.
Start Over to Perfect the Pitch
Replying on top of your original email is not always the best option when following up. It may be more effective to send an entirely new email. Maybe there was a reason that the first email didn’t get a response, so chances are slim that the same subject and content will interest the a second time. Sending a brand new email is an effective way to have a fresh start to get attention. By sending a new email and tweaking the pitch, you can offer a new angle, ask them what they are working on and if there is anything you can provide them with to help on an upcoming story.
We all know the age old saying, “keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” And while we’re certainly not likening all business competitors to enemies, at least not in most cases, the general idea is the same—you should be closely monitoring the current happenings of your industry because if not, you’re bound to miss out.
Enter competitor tracking. This activity may not sound like a make or break PR program on the surface, but it carries multiple essential benefits that make it hard for a company to ignore. Here are a few key benefits you derive from keeping tabs on the competition:
Reporters & Relevant Outlets
The continuously evolving media landscape provides the foundation for ongoing proactive pitching opportunities. As your PR team, it’s our job to keep an ear to the ground so that we’re the first to introduce you to new publications, blogs or social media influencers.
One tried and true method to expanding your media outreach is looking to where your competitors are landing placements. If a media outlet finds your competitor of interest, that’s a likely sign that the publication will be pursuing other stories in your industry. This presents a golden opportunity to open up discussions with a reporter and demonstrate how your client’s POV on a market might just be the inspiration for their next story. By tracking reporters writing about your competitors, you can open the door to follow-up stories on the space just by reaching out and introducing yourself.
How You’re Share of Voice Is Staking Up
Tracking your competitors is a great way to measure your PR strategy. If you’re in a particularly niche industry that doesn’t get a lot of general biz press, yet you notice your competitors continually breaking down the wall, it might be time to reassess the outreach strategy. On the other hand, if you’re company name is hitting the headlines and you are securing more mentions than anyone else, then you know your on the right path. Competitor tracking can be a great barometer for success.
Apples to Apples
Before we get ahead of ourselves, one important thing to keep in mind when competitor tracking is if you’re tracking the RIGHT competitors, and for the right reasons. For example, if you were a cloud start-up it wouldn’t do you much good to constantly be comparing yourself to the likes of AWS. Why? Because you’re not in the same league—at least not yet. It never hurts to dream big, but it does hurt to have a misconstrued self-perception in terms of size and name recognition.
A great way to decipher appropriate competitors is to break them out in terms of what type of coverage you’re looking to secure—such as corporate, product or financial. For example, you can track financial news if your competitor is public, but if your company happens to be private—you’re comparing apples to oranges.
A statement we stand behind at BPR when it comes to our job is that it doesn’t take news to make news.
Often times in our industry, we hear people use the fact that a client doesn’t have an arsenal of news up their sleeve as a crutch, an excuse as to why the media isn’t knocking at their door. In truth, it definitely makes our job easier when there’s a product launch or major company announcement, but if we relied on that to drum up interest, we wouldn’t be much of a creative agency now would we?
The secret to good PR is to give the reporters what they want, what they need, maybe before they’ve even figured it out themselves. The contrast to this is shoving information down the reporter’s throat. The best way to make this best practice a reality is to follow the news. For instance, what’s in the headlines? What is the media already talking about? The news relies on current events and timely topics, and if you leverage this to your client’s advantage, half of your job is already done: figuring out the subject matter.
For example, two companies we work with are Solstice, a Seattle-based cannabis producer, and NexTitle, a full-service title and escrow company based in Bellevue. These companies are vastly different, but both are positioned to capitalize on recent news headlines.
Whether or not you’re into sports, the news of the NFL’s search for a new CMO has likely crossed your radar. Not only is this story landing in ESPN and other popular sport sites, but it’s also relevant to political news publications, as well as health reporters. Why such diverse reach? Because the new CMO’s stance on medicinal cannabis is top of mind. Solstice, which has deep roots in medicinal cannabis, is a great resource for reporters looking to find commentary and expertise on this topic. Not only are you serving reporters by giving them the source they need without having to search for it, but also you’re placing your client in the news as a thought leader. We work to create a win-win for both the reporter and our client.
Speaking of political publications, not one day in the last few weeks has gone by without the presidential election blanketing news headlines. Based on recent events, we’re in for a bumpy ride—and reporters can’t get enough of it. Here at BPR, we’re leveraging this trend for NexTitle to place the company in stories covering what the upcoming election will mean for real estate across the country. Like many areas of the economy in the spotlight, the housing market’s fate is front and center. And it just so happens our client is highly qualified to speak on this topic.
One of the best perks about getting your news angle from the news? You never run out of it, and you’re always relevant.